Students See Black History Month as More Important Now Than Ever
February 16, 2017
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NYU is celebrating both Africa and the diaspora this month. To celebrate Black History Month, the NYU organization African Heritage Month is organizing and sponsoring a series of events that will occur throughout February.
In collaboration with NYU’s Black Student Union, the organization arranged events that exemplify the three themes of this year: black political power, black economic power and black culture. Following these pillars, the school will host a concert on Feb. 28 featuring Maleek Barry and a yoga session on Feb. 27 titled “Black Wellness: TRAP YOGA.” It will additionally take to the runway with its “Afro-Threads: A Fashion Show” event on Feb. 18.
But among all these large activities, GLS sophomore and BSU Political Action Chair Michelle Jones said that the premiere event of the month is the Black Solidarity Conference on Feb. 25. The conference will have three breakout sessions on each theme led by student facilitators and will feature Ericka Huggens — a prominent former member of the Black Panther Party — as its keynote speaker.
“I’m really excited for the BSC because of the conversation, and we’re expecting students from other schools,” Jones said. “Also, I just love partying with my people. It’s such a fun experience.”
CAS senior and African Heritage Month President Chinekwu Osakwe said that Black History Month is an extremely pivotal time for black students on campus, while also being a time to celebrate African culture.
“[Black History Month] ensures that all students of African descent can live their most joyous and best lives,” Osakwe said. “We are celebrating our history and ancestry by having cultural celebrations all month. It is a time to appreciate our collective black cultures and African histories during a time where many individuals with this identity feel unsafe and afraid.”
Osakwe also believes that Black History Month will build camaraderie on campus and shed light on the different cultures that NYU students represent.
And Nursing junior Tyla Leach, who serves as the BSU social media chair, expressed similar sentiments. Leach said she appreciates Black History Month, because it allows students to relax and enjoy activities while also organizing and resisting.
“We allow ourselves the duality to enjoy each other’s company and revel in what it means to be black and what black culture is, but also take that and put that same type of energy into our activism and our movements,” Leach said.
Gallatin senior and BSU Treasurer Tyler Benjamin talked about that spirit rooted in solidarity as well. He said his favorite event of the month was the MSA rally held in Kimmel — even though it was not for Black History Month — because it showcased the power of community among groups of racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
“To have them think about it on a Monday and execute on a Wednesday and have that kind of turnout meant that the community, when in doubt, when in need, we come together,” Benjamin said. “We may have our differences, but at the end of the day when they need our support the most, we’re there for them.”
Leach said she thinks that Black History Month is a chance to get to know the black community and to learn about the social issues it is facing. She thinks anyone can benefit from participating in Black History Month events.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn firsthand about what we’re talking about or experience the community we’re always ranting and raving about,” said Leach. “We really are that dope. Our events are really informative and a great way to learn and grow as a person no matter who you are.”
Email Sayer Devlin at [email protected]